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Compensation Watch ’21: Did RSM US Make It Rain On Employees This Year?

At this time a year ago, RSM employees had just found out if the firm was handing out raises and bonuses while the Rona was still raging in the U.S. Management decided to give raises—capped at 5%—to only those employees who received a promotion (i.e., A2->S1, S1->Supervisor, Supervisor->Manager, etc.). As summer turned to fall, and once management had an idea of how well RSM was performing during its 2021 fiscal year, Joe Adams & Co. decided they would be giving everyone merit-based raises on Nov. 1. 2020.

Firms giving out raises during the height of the pandemic last year were few and far between, so RSM was praised by non-RSMers on the usual chatter sites for giving its employees something at least.

A few weeks ago, RSMers anxiously awaited what raises would be like this year. They had to be more than last year, right? For all the work employees had to do to make RSM money during the worst global health crisis any of us have ever experienced, right?

To find out, I went on r/accounting and went through the RSM comp thread for 2021, both threads for 2020 (here and here), and the one for 2019, and calculated the average raise percentage for each step up in rank or promotion where data was available (i.e, A1->A2, A2->S1, S1->S2, M1->M2, etc).

These averages don’t take into effect factors like location/cost of living, line of service, academic degrees, rating (showing potential, doing great, game changer), and bonuses/awards. This is just the average percentage of how much base pay increased per step up in rank/promotion.

Here are the results:


  • 6.6% (2021)
  • 6.3% (2020)
  • 7.2% (2019)


  • 15% (2021)
  • N/A (2020)
  • 18.7% (2019)


  • 12.5% (2021)
  • 11.7% (2020)
  • 15.6% (2019)


  • 7.2% (2021)
  • 8.3% (2020)
  • 10.3% (2019)


  • 17% (2021)
  • 11.8% (2020)
  • 13.5% (2019)


  • 12.9% (2021)
  • N/A (2020)
  • N/A (2019)


  • 12.3% (2021)
  • 17.3% (2020)
  • 11% (2019)


  • 13% (2021)
  • 10% (2020)
  • N/A% (2019)


  • 6.8% (2021)
  • N/A (2020)
  • N/A (2019)

As expected, this year’s raises topped last year’s in most categories, except S1->S2 and Supervisor->Manager 1, but not by much in a few instances. Raises were only 3% and 4%, respectively, for two RSMers who moved up from S1->S2 this year, according to the 2021 RSM Comp Thread on Reddit.

But the biggest thing that stood out to me was how low raises were this year in almost all of the Associate and Senior categories compared to 2019.

Comp talks also recently happened at Grant Thornton and BDO USA, so we’ll take a look at raises at both of those firms too. Stay tuned.